Saturday, January 14, 2017

Top 10 PlayStation 4 Games of 2016

It was a great year to be a PS4 owner. Besides the litany of third party games, this year also saw the release of Naughty Dog’s first proper PS4 release, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, but it also saw the release of the much-awaited The Last Guardian. That it turned out to be a good game was nothing short of amazing and helped put a nice exclamation point on a good year of gaming available on PS4.

This year in gaming has been impressive. Unlike recent years, there didn’t seem to be any one game that everyone agreed on was far and away the best. This says to me that there was a lot of quality games and a lot of things for people to really connect with. Let’s get to the list of my favourite PS4 games from 2016!

10. Final Fantasy XV

I’ve been a Final Fantasy fan since the original on the NES. The series has had its ups and downs, but, having skipped over Final Fantasy XIII, it had been a really long time since I’ve played a new Final Fantasy game. 10 years, to be exact. Final Fantasy XII was the last one I played and it so happens, loved.

The only reason why Final Fantasy XV isn’t higher on my list is because I’ve honestly not had enough time to get deeper into it. Well, I’ve had time; I’ve been playing for over 12 hours, but I’m only on chapter 3 because I’ve been enjoying doing all of the side quests and I keep getting more! This is a huge game I can see myself playing well into early next year for sure, but I’ve played enough to know it deserves a spot on my list this year.

9. Far Cry Primal

Despite being a huge fan of the Far Cry series, I have to admit I wasn’t all that excited for Far Cry Primal. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to play it or wasn’t interested, but rather I viewed this as a spinoff that felt more like glorified DLC. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As a fully fleshed out game with scores of variety in weapons and gameplay, Far Cry Primal shows just how well the Far Cry formula can translate to other time periods and environments.

The story didn’t really register much, and even now I can only recall bits and pieces of it, but I remember very well that I had a blast playing it. A highlight for me was running up on a group of enemies who had some of my people captured, sliding on the ground, raising my bow and taking out three enemies at once with triple arrows, then charging at the remaining enemies and chaining takedowns and throwing my knife at the last enemy. If you’ve been waiting on playing this game, don’t. It’s really, really good.

8. Hitman

could have easily missed making my list. I balked at the episodic release schedule and figured I wouldn’t play it until the full game released on disc early next year. Thankfully the full first season was available during a digital sale before Black Friday so I decided to jump in at the 50% discounted price. I’m glad I did. The Hitman games satiate so many of my favourite things about games. Tonnes of options on how to solve the problems presented to you, great stealth mechanics and a dark sense of humour. Some of these levels are huge and present so many opportunities simply by roaming around and eavesdropping on conversations.

In Italy, I heard a conversation between a newly hired kitchen hand and another NPC regarding the kitchen hand being late on his first day. I went inside the apartment building, snuck into his room, stole his kitchen outfit and made my way into the kitchen. I then took expired spaghetti sauce and dumped into a put of spaghetti that was then served to one of my targets. While he was eating his poisoned meal, I made my way around the other side of the mansion to a cliff right by where he was eating, climbed into a conveniently placed bin and waited. Once the food poisoning kicked in my target came and doubled over vomiting right on the edge of cliff which happened to be directly in front of my hiding space. I climbed out, snuck up behind him, and shoved him off the ledge to his death. And that is just one of the many ways I could have taken out my target. Another involves an exploding golfball. Play the game and try that one out.

7. Dishonored 2

Another game I wasn’t overly excited to play this year, Dishonored 2 managed to surpass my expectations and deliver a challenging and fun experience. I enjoyed the first game a lot but it didn’t blow me away or anything, so when I started Dishonored 2 I figured it would be more of the same.

Except unlike the first game, when I was away from Dishonored 2 I would keep thinking about it. Thinking about how I could use my powers to navigate the large maps and avoid being spotted while I would take down enemies nonlethally. I was extremely successful making sure no one died, but not so much when it came to not getting spotted. But that’s what multiple playthroughs are for, right? The story isn’t very good, however, and seems more as an excuse to use the mechanics rather than a driving force to pull the player through.

6. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
was my favourite game of the generation. With its fun gameplay, excellent writing and performances, jaw dropping, bar-setting set pieces, I felt like I had experienced Naughty Dog at the height of their powers. With Neil Druckmann taking over for Amy Hennig as the writer and creative director, I expected Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End to at least match Uncharted 2.

Unfortunately, this turned out to not be the case. The story is the series’ best, for certain, but the pacing was off (I blame he inordinate amount of forced walking and two entirely too long flashback sequences) and the game really lacked those aforementioned set pieces outside of one that comes mid game. There are a few smaller ones later in the game, but nothing that I’ve come to expect from an Uncharted game. If it sounds weird that I’m bagging on a game so high on my list, I get it. But understand that the presentation, storytelling and performances are top notch and when the gameplay is good it’s the best in the series. I only wish that Naughty Dog would have trimmed some of the fat.

5. Tom Clancy’s The Division

I loved, loved, loved The Division. Team based, tactical combat with a ton of RPG elements, customisation, and fun combat arenas, I couldn’t get enough of Ubisoft Massive’s open world RPG. If I have any real complaint about the game, it’s that I don’t quite think they nailed The Dark Zone’s promising concept. Instead of being tense, it became a chore, because relying on other people, it just became an asshole simulator.

As a huge fan of tactical shooters and RPGs, The Division scratched so many itches that I thought for sure it would be my favorite game of the year. That it’s only my fifth favourite game of the year is a testament to the rest of the games that came out in its wake.

4. Inside

Any questions I had regarding why it took nearly six years for Playdead to release a follow up to 2010’s Limbo melted away as I was consumed with the polish on display with Inside. Inside is a visually stunning, thought provoking, nigh impeccably designed game that offers anyone willing to experience it a truly clever and original experience that takes familiar concepts and almost literally turns them on their head.
Instantly captivating with deceptively deep yet simple mechanics that offer quite a bit of variety, it’s a testament to Playdead’s talents that they are able to not only continue to surprise but keep the entire thing fresh throughout. As a work of art, it’s astounding. As a piece of commerce, it is incredibly brief, and depending on how you value one over the other, when you decide to experience this masterpiece is up to you. However, make no mistake, Inside is a game I recommend that everyone play.

3. The Last Guardian

The Last Guardian
is not a game for everyone. As someone who almost unanimously prefers gameplay to story, I can easily see the camera issues coupled with the slower controls being a real source of contention and turn off some people. Admittedly, I came close once or twice myself.

However, when the gameplay works as intended, it works really well – and the beauty of the story together with the bond and affection I came to feel for Trico overtook any frustration I had. When “The End” appeared on my screen I wiped the mist from eyes, stood up and said to myself, “I loved that”. Unlike anything I have ever played before, if you own a PS4 and have a soft spot for animals, give The Last Guardian a try. You might come away as pleased as I was that this game exists and that you were able to experience it.

2. Dark Souls III

I love Dark Souls III so much that it’s probably unnatural. This is a game I’ve played through four times on PS4 and twice on Xbox One and that’s not including the DLC which I’ve played through on both platforms. The combat has been refined to perfection, the bosses are memorable, unique and some are incredibly challenging (Nameless King), I even appreciated the trick bosses which fall very quickly once you figure out the puzzles aspect of their weakness.

Dark Souls III comes really close to being my favourite game of 2016 but when it boils down to it, there are a couple things I don’t like about the game. First would be that some areas aren’t all that great, namely Smoldering Lake and Demon Ruins. They’re just not all that interesting and don’t really add much to the game save for a few items that could have been placed in other areas and wouldn’t really change the lore all that much and would have improved the game, even if these are really brief areas. The other gripe I have is the emphasis on invasions and how Covenant items depend on invading. It’s just not something I’ve ever enjoyed in these games and in one later third area it becomes utterly obnoxious. The only way to not be invaded is to either remain unkindled or play offline. Both lock you off from playing co-op which is entirely optional. I’m sure people will read this and hurl insults at the screen but sometimes you hurt the ones you love. These really are minor gripes for a game that does so many other things incredibly well.

1. Titanfall 2

Yep. Titanfall 2 is my favourite PlayStation 4 game of 2016. An improvement on the first game (which I loved) in nearly every conceivable way,  if Respawn had simply doubled-down and released the multiplayer for Titanfall 2 as it exists now, I would still easily recommend it. They’ve tweaked the existing formula in deeply satisfying ways that extend the life of the game immensely. However, by adding a truly surprising and impeccably designed single-player campaign that is consistently fun to play, as a package Titanfall 2 is the most pure, minute-to-minute fun I’ve had with any game this year.

What are your favourite PlayStation 4 games of 2016? Let us know by commenting below!


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